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Letter: Star Wars and Threats


by Ronald Bleier (rbleier@xxxxxxx)

NOTE: The following letter (with minor changes) was emailed 
to the Editor of the Times on 5.18.96 but apparently the 
editors have decided not to print it.

To the Editor:

While Representative Curt Weldon's (R-WA) letter (5.17.96)
advocating increased funding for a missile defense system
undoubtedly emanates out of a partisan political context,
the legislator hits on the awful truth that the world is
indeed becoming a more dangerous place. Any number of
indicators point to an era of increased tensions and rumors
of war. 

Nevertheless, even while the world is becoming more
dangerous, deploying missile defense systems cannot be the
answer. Not only are they unlikely to work effectively in
real world situations, but the y will exacerbate the
situation by heightening the arms race and by increasing
international apprehension about U.S. policy. 

More importantly, throwing even more money at the military
diverts scarce resources away from the more fundamental
issue of population growth colliding with an ever
diminishing amount of critical resources. According to
Worldwatch, an organization that tracks resource issues,
we are in the midst of a decline in per capita arable and
irrigable land; our grain stocks have hit an almost
50-year low and we have dangerously depleted virtually all
the world's major fisheries. 

Mr. Weldon is correct to point to North Korea as a country
liable to lash out. He neglects to mention, however, that
millions of North Koreans are currently threatened by
starvation, in part because of the devastating floods
there last August. Unfortunately this has occurred at the
height of donor fatigue. After recently contributing $2
million worth of grain (of a world total of $10million) to
the Koreans, the U.S. has refused more food aid and none is 
in the pipeline.

It's not unlikely that our fatigue is due in large part to
the fact that world grain stocks are so low. Policy
planners here may be concerned about the upward pressure
more grain donations to North K orea might have on grain
prices which have more than doubled in the last six months
and which are increasingly becoming a serious concern.

We may be entering an era where tightening food supplies
are having a discernable effect on security issues. 
Ironically, increased military spending, especially of the
kind Mr. Weldon advocates, can only make things worse.

Yes, the world is becoming more dangerous but instead of
hastening to military solutions, we would be better
advised to direct scarce resources at maintaining our food
and water supplies by controlling population growth, and
by preserving arable lands, wetlands and forest areas
which must be our ultimate source of wealth and security. 


Ronald Bleier